Tactical jets like the F-16 Fighting Falcon are capable of delivering all sorts of firepower, but the truth is, sometimes all it takes to send a message is a well-executed low-pass over a desolate stretch of highway.
We first came across this footage in a Reddit post earlier this month, though the footage appears to have floated around the internet for some time, popping up everywhere from 9Gag to Funker530, but despite the video itself making the rounds for at least three years now, it’s tough to find reliable context for the clip.
However, there are some things we can say for sure: Despite being called a “show of force” (which is confusingly abbreviated as SOF) in most posts, this incident would really be better described as a “show of presence” or SOP, instead. The difference between the two really comes down to the use of ordnance or weaponry of some kind. A show of force usually includes something like warning shots fired not at but in the vicinity of the person whose attention you’re trying to get.
A show of presence, on the other hand, is all about just making sure the bad guys know there’s 35,000 pounds of supersonic, missile-packing backup zooming around overhead nearby, just in case anyone wants to get froggy.
But as this video clearly shows, platforms like the F-16 don’t need to expend any ammunition to make a point. Carrying around a powerplant with 27,000 pounds of thrust on tap can say plenty.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is commonly known among pilots as the Viper
While the F-15 Eagle is known around the world as the most potent air-to-air fighter of its generation, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, commonly referred to as the Viper by pilots, is broadly considered to be the most successful 4th generation fighter on the planet. Originally designed as a lightweight, lower-cost fighter that could supplement the F-15’s dogfighting prowess, the F-16 soon proved incredibly capable at the sort of air-to-ground operations that came to dominate the latter half of the 20th century, as well as the majority of the 21st century to date.
As a result, this broadly capable fighter has become the most common fighter on the planet, with more than 4,600 airframes built and delivered to date. Today, the U.S. Air Force has more F-16s in its hangars than all of the F-22s and F-35s the United States has across all branches combined.